Moves to Make for the Fantasy Playoffs

A look at the best and worst matchups for each position and playoff schedules to determine the best players to trade for and away in the fantasy playoffs

Nine weeks into the season, we know where we stand in the playoff hunt, we know which run defenses, pass defenses, running games, and passing games are good and bad, so we can set our focus on players to acquire (and maybe trade away) for the fantasy playoffs. The first step in this exercise is figuring which matchups are true exploits and avoids at this point in the season.

Quarterback - Exploit

Atlanta: This has been reliable for most of the year, but they have held down Teddy Bridgewater and only allowed Drew Lock to go off in garbage time in the last two weeks.

Buffalo: Only Sam Darnold was a dud against the Bills, and Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jared Goff, and Derek Carr all posted 25+ fantasy points against them.

Cincinnati: Baker Mayfield, Philip Rivers, and Gardner Minshew have all had great fantasy days against the Bengals this year.

Dallas: The Cowboys defense has fared ok against NFC East foes and Jared Goff, but the rest of the league has done well against them.

Detroit: Kirk Cousins and Philip Rivers have each thrown three scores against Matt Patricia’s defense in the last two weeks.

Houston: In the last four games the Texans have given up four scores to Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill, and allowed very good fantasy afternoons to both Jacksonville quarterbacks.

Jacksonville: The Jaguars have given up big games to opposing quarterbacks every week this year, except when opposing running backs have accounted for three scores.

Seattle: A combination of a suspect secondary and high scoring offense makes them a pass defense to target.

Quarterback - Avoid

Baltimore: Only Patrick Mahomes II and Carson Wentz have posted good games against them. Joe Burrow, Ben Roethlisberger and Deshaun Watson all posted subpar results against the Ravens.

Chicago: No quarterback has had anything approaching a ceiling game against the Bears yet, with Tom Brady and Matt Ryan both coming in well under season averages.

Los Angeles Rams: Josh Allen and Jimmy Garoppolo have broken through against the Rams, but the Rams have smothered middling quarterbacks this year.

Pittsburgh: No quarterback has posted a ceiling game against the Steelers this year, including Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill, and Deshaun Watson.

Running Backs - Exploit

Detroit: Five different running backs have scored twice in a game against the Lions

Green Bay: Four different running backs have scored twice in a game against the Packers, and Dalvin Cook has done it twice.

Houston: Only once this year has a team failed to notch a running back touchdown against the Texans and they’ve allowed five games of at least 99 yards rushing.

New England: Watch this one as the Bills and 49ers running games have come alive against the Patriots over the last three weeks.

Tennessee: The Titans have given up a running back touchdown in every game this year

Running Backs - Avoid

Baltimore: Ceiling games are not happening against this run defense. Antonio Gibson and Miles Sanders have broken big plays, but that’s about it

Indianapolis: The Colts have held the Ravens, Browns and Vikings running games in check this year.

New Orleans: The Saints run defense is surging and hasn’t allowed anything like a ceiling game this year.

Seattle: Outside of the Vikings game, no running back has gone for over 58 yards against them and no opposing running game has had more than 19 running back attempts.

Tampa Bay: The next running back to go over 60 yards rushing against the Bucs this year will be the first.

Wide Receivers - Exploit

Atlanta: We will start wideouts against the Falcons until it repeatedly backfires. Twelve receivers have at least 75 yards against them

Cincinnati: Only the Tyrod Taylor led Chargers failed to throw a touchdown to a wide receiver against them.

Cleveland: Only Philip Rivers failed to throw a touchdown to a wide receiver against them, and four opponents posted multiple wide receiver scores.

Dallas: Opposing wideouts have posted multiple scores against them in 6 of 9 games.

Denver: The Broncos have given up multiple wide receiver scores in four games this year. Three of the four where they didn’t were against the Patriots, Jets, and Chiefs when they didn’t have to try too hard to win.

Houston: The Texans have allowed nine touchdowns to receivers over the last four games.

Jacksonville: The Jaguars have allowed at least 199 receiving yards to opposing wideouts in four of the last five games.

Minnesota: The Vikings have surrendered multiple scores to wideouts in four of the last five games.

San Francisco: The 49ers have allowed multiple receiver scores four of the last five weeks.

Seattle: Seventeen receivers have gone for at least 70 yards against the Seahawks this year.

Wide Receivers - Avoid

Baltimore: They’ve only allowed four wide receiver scores all year.

Chicago: They’ve only allowed three wide receiver scores all year.

Los Angeles Rams: They’ve only allowed four wide receiver scores all season.

Washington: The Football Team has only allowed three wide receiver scores and no 100-yard games this year.

Tight End - Exploit

Atlanta: Eight touchdowns allowed to tight ends, including three to Robert Tonyan Jr, two to Jimmy Graham, and one to Dalton Schultz, along with nine catches and 88 yards.

Buffalo: Six touchdowns allowed to tight ends, and six catches to Chris Herndon.

Chicago: Six touchdowns allowed to tight ends.

Cincinnati: Six touchdowns allowed to tight ends… in the last four games. Zach Ertz went for 7-70 and Hunter Henry 5-73.

Jacksonville: Seven tight end scores allowed this year

New York Jets: Six tight end scores allowed including two to Jordan Reed and two to Dolphins tight ends not named Mike Gesicki

Philadelphia: Six scores allowed to tight ends, including three to Tyler Higbee and a 15-183-1 game to George Kittle

Washington: Six scores allowed to tight ends, including an 8-101-1 game to Dallas Goedert, a two score game to Mark Andrews, and a 4-90 game to Gerald Everett

Tight End - Avoid

Green Bay: Only one tight end touchdown allowed this year

Indianapolis: No tight end touchdowns allowed this year

Miami: No one over 44 receiving yards, only two scores allowed to tight ends

New England: Only one tight end touchdown allowed, 3-70 to Kelce, 5-55 to Kittle, 2-9 to Waller

Pittsburgh: One tight end score allowed

Playoff Schedules (Weeks 14-16)

Arizona - @NYG PHI SF

Only slight bumps for the passing game

Atlanta - @LAC TB @KC

**Action Item**: Sell Todd Gurley as he draws Tampa Bay and two games where the Falcons could easily be playing from behind

Baltimore - @CLE JAX NYG

**Action Item**: Buy low on Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews, and Lamar Jackson against some soft pass defenses.

Buffalo - PIT @DEN @NE

**Action Item**: This schedule will be a test for Josh Allen. If you’re not comfortable playing him against the Steelers and Patriots in the fantasy playoffs, set up a deal now coming off two strong fantasy performances.

Carolina - DEN @GB @WAS

A mixed bag of plus and minus matchups with no real clarity

Chicago - HOU @MIN @JAX

This will test your faith in matchups. Allen Robinson (and Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller) have three plus matchups. Nick Foles has two.

**Action Item**: Ask for a price check on Robinson

Cincinnati - DAL PIT @HOU

**Action Item**: Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd line up as great plays in Weeks 14 and 16, but Week 15 could be rough for Burrow. All are undervalued right now.

Cleveland - BAL @NYG @NYJ

Baltimore is an avoid in Week 14, but the game scripts should be good for the running game in Weeks 15-16.

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